From Today in God’s Word
Gen 42; Mark 12; Job 8; Rom 12
In Romans 12 Paul moves from exposition regarding the gospel of our salvation in the first 11 chapters of his letter to now exhorting the church regarding how to live in response to this gospel. There is much to discuss in this rich chapter but my thoughts linger on the significance of verse 19 in how we forgive others.
“17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17–21, ESV)
Recall that Paul begins this section at verse 9 with a call t0 “Let love be genuine”. I suggest that having an understanding of the righteous wrath of God that rests on those who do not submit to Jesus for salvation should lead us to compassion. The thought that this person, who has made them self my enemy, will one day face the wrath of God should compel me to action in a couple of ways.
First, it should remove my eagerness to inflict repayment of evil for evil. Knowing that the wise and omniscient God of all creation will judge them rightly and will have perfect punishment for them according to his holy nature should relieve my sense of need to meat out some kind of punishment. Their sin is no doubt a greater offense to God than to me and they will face something far more terrifying than my wrath one day.
But second, it should immediately move me to feel compassion for them because I too am guilty before God if it were not for the blood of Christ that was shed for me. I am no more worthy of his gift of salvation than this enemy of mine is. I should be eager to see them repent and eager to extend forgiveness to them in celebration that the Lord has been merciful toward them as he has been toward me.
Lord in heaven, might you help us to comprehend the terrible wrath that remains stored up for those who do not trust and obey your Son for salvation (John 3:36). And would you move us to compassion when we are sinned against and may you give us hearts with genuine love that are eager to forgive and hopeful that the wicked will repent and turn to Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!